How to Wash Antique Linens

Some of us are fortunate enough to inherit a little piece of our family history. If we’re lucky, these items will be in good condition, but that’s not always the case. Some items may have dry rot, mouse nibbles and/or rust. You won’t be able to save these things if the fibers are already compromised. If you tug on two sides of a garment and it comes apart without much effort, your item has dry rot and has reached the end. Sometimes, you just have to let go, there’s no way to save it.

To start, here are a few items you should have on hand:
White Vinegar
Rust Remover
Restoration – (Oxyclean is similar, more widely available and slightly less expensive than Restoration, but it doesn’t work as well.)
Bleach pen
Laundry detergent (simple soap, nothing added)

***PLEASE NOTE THAT I DO NOT GUARANTEE ANY METHOD THAT YOU CHOOSE TO TRY. IT ALL DEPENDS ON THE CONDITION OF THE GARMENT.***

“Restoration” and white vinegar are preferred products. Read the label and use common sense. You may only need to use “Restoration” for your initial laundering to remove storage dirt. You can also use “Restoration” in the washing machine with your laundry, too. It removes odors, age spots, storage stains, label stains and often, some rust. If it doesn’t remove the rust, try using “Whink Rust & Stain Remover.” Be aware that if rust has already eaten away the fibers that you may be left with a hole where the rust had been after cleaning with rust/stain remover.

Use “Restoration” first and, if stains remain after two or three sessions with it, put the dampened piece outside in bright sunshine for a day. This is often a magical solution. Horrible stains will usually disappear within an hour. This is the least invasive method. It is effective and it’s free – it also sanitizes.¬†However, sunlight does bleach and weaken fibers over time. Sunlight is destructive so I am not suggesting that you constantly subject your fragile items to sunlight. This method, used once or twice on a piece that would otherwise need to be thrown away, can be very helpful. If the stains persist, you may need to resort to using bleach with laundry detergent. I like to have a bleach pen on hand because it allows me to pinpoint where I apply the bleach. After using bleach, always rinse with white vinegar, then rinse again with clear water.

Step 1. Use hot water with “Restoration” until the water turns clear. (approx. 4- 6 hours or overnight) If the water is not clear after overnight soak, repeat this step. Extremely filthy items may require several soakings.

Step 2. Drain and refill container with water; add white vinegar (a splash or a cup, depending on container size); swish around and soak for 10-20 minutes.

Step 3. Drain and refill with lots of clear water; swish around and soak for 15 minutes. Done!

If stains remain, repeat entire process.
If there is rust, use rust remover on wet fabric, then repeat from Step 2.

If stains remain, lay wet/damp item outdoors in sunshine.

If stains remain, soak with laundry detergent and small amount of bleach. Or use a bleach pen on small stains. It is better to soak longer using very little bleach.

IMPORTANT!
DO NOT mix chemical treatments. Pre-rinse items that may have bleach or detergent residue with vinegar to neutralize the bleach and then rinse twice in clear water before trying another treatment. DO NOT bleach anything after using Oxyclean or peroxide or any other chemical treatment. Your items may turn permanently blue, or worse Rinse really well before trying any other product.

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How to Care for Bed Sheets

If you haven’t noticed, bed sheets are expensive.¬† If you buy quality, you’d like for them to hold up – not fray, get those pesky little fiber balls that form, also known as “pilling”, or simply to prevent them from fading. This blog may seem pointless to some, but learning how to care for your bed sheets will help you keep them longer and save a little money.

First of all, know your sheets’ fiber content. Look at the care label or packaging to identify the fabric content of your sheets. The most likely fabric choices are cotton, Egyptian cotton, or a cotton-polyester blend, although sheets can also be made of bamboo, linen, or silk. Be sure to review the manufacturer’s care recommendations before washing. Keep in mind that cotton-polyester blends will generally come out of the¬†dryer¬†less wrinkled than all-cotton sheets.¬†Bamboo, linen, and silk sheets need special care.

Wash sheets separately from towels or other clothing. This gives the sheets more room to circulate in the water, which means they’ll get cleaner. Washing sheets alone also prevents damage caused by zippers and other fasteners, and it reduces the amount of pilling that can happen over time.

Always pre-treat stains before laundering sheets. Avoid using bleach on bed linens as it can damage the fabric. If you need to brighten white sheets, add 1/4 cup of lemon juice to the wash water instead of bleach. Use a mild detergent for cotton and cotton-polyester-blend sheets. Special fabrics such as linen and silk may require a special detergent.

Use a gentle wash cycle and cool or lukewarm water. Simple tip Рshaking the sheets out before placing them in the dryer can help reduce wrinkles. Use a low heat setting to minimize damage from high temperatures.

Wash your sheets weekly (more often for humid climates) to extend the life of your bed linens. During the time spent on the bed, dirt, dust, skin cells, body oils and fluids accumulate on sheets. The longer these particles accumulate on the sheets, the more stress is put on the sheet fibers. In addition, skin cells and body oils and fluids can attract microscopic mites. A good tip to reduce the washing frequency, is to bathe before bedtime so you’ll take less dirt into bed with you. Keeping sweat, oils, and dirt out of the bed will keep the sheets clean longer.

 

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